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2024 Winter Fine Art, Antiques & Jewelry (Day 1)

Sat, Jan 27, 2024 09:00AM EST
Lot 538

Julian O. Davidson O/C, The Burning of the USS Congress, 1892

Estimate: $7,000 - $8,000

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Julian Oliver Davidson (New York, 1853-1894) oil on canvas laid to Masonite painting depicting the burning of the USS Congress at Hampton Roads on March 8, 1862, following shelling by the USS Virginia (visible in the distance at center right). Sailors abandon the burning ship and swim or try to remain afloat in the foreground. Signed and dated "J.O. Davidson 92," lower left. Housed in an ornate giltwood frame with brass nameplate. Sight: 58 1/2" H x 34 7/8" W. Frame: 69" H x 45" W.

Literature: This painting along with a watercolor and photogravure of the same theme, is listed as number 5 in the general inventory of the estate of the artist as recorded by the Rockland County, NY Surrogate's Office and included in the supplementary material in Lynn S. Beman's exhibition catalogue Julian O. Davidson 1853-1894: American Marine Artist, p. 61 (New York: Historical Society of Rockland County, 1986).

Note: The USS Congress, along with a fleet of Union ships, was attacked in 1862 by the Confederate ironclad CSS Virginia (formerly the USS Merrimac and persistently mid-identified as such). This conflict, known as the Battle of Hampton Roads, resulted in the destruction of the USS Congress. Later, the Union ironclad USS Monitor would arrive and the ensuing battle--the first between this class of armored warships--would significantly impact the course of naval warfare.


Overall good condition, with retouching to two areas in smoke at left, plus repair with retouching to net arm, 5" H x 3" W.

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Private South Carolina Collection, ex-Brunk Auctions, Sept. 12, 2015 lot 228, and November 3, 2007, lot 490.